It’s the final week of the second lockdown, and I will be returning to work next week. We will be sticking to our pre-lockdown work pattern of four days a week and, because of the way it falls, I won’t be back in until Friday. I intend to make the most of the next four days.
I don’t have much in the way of poetry writing to do at the moment because there are no deadlines until January. I think I have everything I need for then, and just have to polish a few bits. I will continue writing, but there is no urgency in it for the moment. I have quite a lot written and am polishing it for January.
At the moment I have a magazine article in progress. I’m struggling with it because I’m writing a list of information which I am reusing from an obituary. The life was interesting, but the process of writing about it is not so interesting.
I have also just had another haibun published. Try this link to see it – same as usual, scroll down to Simon Wilson. You may like to try a few of the others while you are there. Last week I also had a haiku published in Presence, but that’s a print magazine so there is no link. This is, I think, the fourth time I submitted to Presence, and my first success. I was beginning to give up hope, but thought I’d give it another go. And with that brief word on the importance of persistence, I will leave close.
Subtitle “I can do what I like and you will just have to put up with it.”
I bought these a couple of weeks ago but so far haven’t got round to writing about them. Two lanyards, two holders and two cards – just over £8 with postage. I’m now equipped to go into shops and other public places, spread germs, avoid my responsibilities to others and, if I feel like it, hold up my card and order people to back off. I could have had others too, but I thought these would do, just to show how stupid the situation is.
I can show this one and, in theory, make them move away from me. Generally they move away from me anyway because my personal grooming standards are not all they could be.
If they were actually issued by a doctor I might have some respect for the card, but you just need to go on the website and you can order what you want.
The logic of “I’m exempt” escapes me too, even after months of masks and lockdown. I’m not bothered if they are exempt or not, I’m worried about whether they are breathing germs on me. I’m not really concerned about their health, it’s my health that I’m worried about. If I fall ill we will have to quarantine the shop and I don’t want to see it have to close again.
Meanwhile, I’m looking for a website that sells those blue “I can park where I like” badges.
Just to be clear, I am, of course, sensitive to the needs of others, and appreciate that some people may have genuine hidden disabilities and a problem wearing a mask. I just think, based on my observations, that a lot of people who don’t wear masks are just too lazy to bother.
After a day spent hammering away at the keyboard yesterday – ebay parcels and banknotes to be written up for sale – I decided to devote most of my evening to my beloved, as she has had another harrowing day at work. After much moaning and eating fish and chips we both fell asleep around 10.30 in front of the TV and didn’t wake up until midnight. And That is why there is another untidy gap in my history of blog posts.
Julia has been under considerable stress at work over recent months because, as with all successful garden projects, everybody wants a piece of it. It’s a lovely, relaxing place to spend a day according to her manager, who spent a lazy, sunny day there in late summer, eating fruit and chilling out.
It’s not quite so lovely in November, with no heat or light or running water and a group that needs supervising, chemical toilets that need scrubbing and all the routine tasks to attend to (so that people can come down in summer and steal all your crops).
In the Polytunnel – now converted for general use with Social Distancing
People always want to ‘work’ on garden projects when they are running well, but they never want to do the actual work, and they often disrupt things due to ignorance and stupidity. Here are three examples of what she is up against. I will offer them here as slightly humorous stories, rather than serious complaints, as the full list of problems is long and boring and makes me think murderous thoughts. These are just three edited highlights.
One, Julia went down one day after her regular Wednesday day off to find a large hole in the garden. The Wednesday staff had decided the garden needed a new pond as the three it already has are clearly not enough. Julia shrugged it off as she is becoming immune to the random stupidity. When she went to the compost bins she found that the bin she had just spent two days emptying (ready to move compost) had been filled with rubble by the pond diggers. It took two days to clear it. (They have, by the way, dug the hole the wrong size for the liner and the garden is let with a hole and a discarded liner, because they have now lost interest.)
Apples – the garden is always popular at harvest time
Two, she went to the main base on the edge of town and found a display of succulents on show. Apparently they were too good to leave in the polytunnel and everyone should be able to enjoy them. One of the visiting staff had decided this and without discussion, had removed them. When Julia complained and pointed out that they were part of an ongoing project she was told they were Mencap property and they would do what they liked. However, they aren’t Mencap property, they are our property. We sourced them and loaned them to the garden because, until recently, there was never any money for the garden. They are part of a project where the group propagates them and sells the extras at Open Days to raise money for the garden.
She was then told that she should not take her own things to the garden and that she should remove them. So, no succulent project, no enrichment experience for the clients, no fund-raising and only about half the succulents we used to have as quite a lot have disappeared. Most managers would have apologised and thanked Julia for the resources she provides.
Finally, she inspected the wormery yesterday. She found that somebody has filled it with sand. We are mystified why anybody would do this, as worms don’t live in sand and don’t eat sand.
Why, why, why, why, why?
Moles like the garden too
There is a meeting on Monday to discuss the garden. I don’t think it will help. I think homicide would help, as some of the staff will clearly be more use as soil improver than they are as human beings.
I’m beginning to wilt under the pressure and nearly went shopping today on the way back from dropping Julia at work. We don’t need any groceries but the days are not as much fun in this second lockdown as Julia is at work and I’m beginning to find myself feeling a little lonely after three weeks of isolation without company. Lockdown One – lie-ins, sunshine and company. Lockdown Two – up at 6.45, cold and lonely. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for people living on their own all through the first lockdown. I thought of the lack of freedom as the main problem, not loneliness. I have plenty to do so I don’t usually feel lonely. But I don’t usually have this much time to myself.
One thing I’ve noticed about the new computer is that it’s virtually silent and the case doesn’t even get warm despite being on for hours. This is very different from the old one.
Highpoint of the day has ben talking (a) to a scammer and (b) to Amazon customer services.
The first was an obvious scam because Amazon don’t have my home phone number so I asked if though t I was stupid enough to hand over my bank details to a random caller. He was very good at pretending to have hurt feelings. However, the third time I explained I thought he should have some sort of ID he put the phone down mid-sentence. I’m not sure even an Amazon employee would be that rude.
Of course, I had to go to my account to check it just in case and managed to lock myself out. They now send One Time Passwords over the phone as links rather than codes. I’m not online with my phone so I can’t use them and had to ring up. To be fair, once we established that I had no intention of linking my phone to the internet, it all went quite smoothly as two polite, cheerful and intelligent members of staff sorted it all out for me. It’s not often you’ll here me say that after dealing with a customer helpline, so remember this moment. It’s ten out of ten for Amazon.
I don’t know why everyone needs you to be linked to the internet. Back in the 70s you didn’t have to walk round with a pocketful of carrier pigeons so why do we need a phone for everything?
And yes, it’s another cat. A good, old-fashioned cat that doesn’t need you to be linked to the internet so that it can treat you with indifference. On the other hand, if you die alone, a mobile phone won’t start to eat you.
It’s not actually a stamp, they just added a few pictures to the sheet of stamps – first time we had some I didn’t realise and counted it as a First Class Stamp.
We had avocado on sourdough toast for lunch. Julia had eggs on hers. Ugh!
Then we had a text. Julia’s sister has just been released from hospital after having her appendix out. In Monday, operated Tuesday, out Wednesday. Until she let us know she was coming out we didn’t know she was in.
Appendectomies were not common until 1902, but gained popularity after Edward VII had his appendix treated by a surgeon (though not, it seems, actually removed). This is why many cheap souvenir coronation medals bear the wrong date – it was scheduled for 26th June 1902 but had to be delayed until 9th August. Edward tried to ignore his worsening pain because he wanted the coronation to go ahead on schedule.
‘I must go to the Abbey’, he said, in a meeting about his health.
That’s the same Sir Frederick Treves who discovered the Elephant Man. Anthony Hopkins played Treves in the film, and actor Frederick Treves, great nephew of the surgeon, played another role.
This article tells a story close to the end (it’s a long article, I won’t blame you if you don’t read it). It seems that in 1993 a surgeon was operating on an elderly lady who had had her first surgery as a six-year-old in 1906 when she had her appendix out at home. Yes, at home. I’ll let you read the rest as it is quoted.
EMG will be 100 years old this month. She is both a friend and a former patient. I first met her as a friend in 1984, and in 1993 I found myself operating on her for gallstones. Laparoscopic surgery had arrived, and so I performed a laparoscopic cholecystectomy. Preoperatively, she mentioned that she had had her appendix removed as a child, and as a routine I asked her the name of the surgeon. ‘Treves—Frederick Treves’, she said.
An interesting link to history.
That’s why I love blogging – the money isn’t good but the trivia is exceptional.
Julia’s sister is fine, so don’t worry about me drifting off to talk about Edward VII. She’s currently at home and will shortly be getting flowers through the post – assuming the Royal Mail can get their act together. I’m running out of patience with them after my last few experiences.
The cat picture is included because I like cats and can’t be bothered to take new photographs. Honestly…
Edit: That last sentence was meant to read – The cat picture is included because I like cats and not because I can’t be bothered to take new photographs. Honestly…
However, I have to admit that this was probably a case of subconsciously telling the truth, and the first version is more accurate.
The GBBO final proceeded according to form. Laura spilt more stuff while Peter and Dave slugged it out for top honours. I won’t say more as it is not the most interesting thing for me to discuss if you haven’t seen it. And also because I’m worried I must be getting old as it’s becoming more interesting as the years go by.
I may be telling people who already know, but if you fancy doing something educational the Open University has a range of free courses available. I’m doing the “What is Poetry?” course in an attempt to educate myself. I have been reading articles for the last few months but decided that it might be good to do a proper course. It’s OK, but not really telling me anything I didn’t know. I’ll probably try a couple of poetry courses but after that it’s time to try the one about critical reading – which is something I do need to know more about. After that there are so many courses offered by so many Universities that the choice it almost endless.
Apart from that there’s nothing much to report. Poor service from the Royal Mail, poor service regarding prescriptions, and a missing parcel which was sent via courier. All stuff I could do without, all stuff that will take time to sort. I really do have better uses for my time.
I sent an article off to a poetry magazine last night (I’m starting to branch out) and found that the on-line form system that it uses will only accept Word files – it won’t accept files from Apache Open Office. I am on a month’s free trial with Word, so was able to convert it, but it’s a problem for the future. Having decided that I’m going to refuse to pay £80 as year for Microsoft Office I don’t really want to go back to it days after deciding on the alternative.
Life is never simple…
And the title? I forgot to add a title, so the next thing I saw was that two people had liked 51842. At that point I guessed I’d ben in such a hurry to write that I’d forgotten the title again.
I’ve just heard the sound of the Council House clock striking. I always feel it’s a good day when air conditions and the wind direction carry the sound. You can, of course, get too much of a good thing, which is why the chimes stop at 10.30. This was done many years ago when hoteliers complained that the bell was keeping guests awake. In the 1970s I spent a night in Durham. The cathedral clock chimes all through the night. All through. Loudly. Never again.
Anyway, apart from that I’ve had an unremarkable day.
Dropped Julia at work. Filled the car (the fuel gauge lit up and pinged). Came home. Did some more of the OU course I started yesterday (it’s a 12 hour course on poetry, nothing heavy), did comments on WP, did a bit of editing, read a couple of internet articles, washed up and realised that it’s midday and I need to get some work done. Also realised I didn’t know how to spell midday so had to look it up.
I had the same problem last week with the plural of roof. I pronounce it rooves, but I’m sure it is correctly, though inaccurately, spelt roofs. Seems I’m wrong and rooves is still acceptable in the UK, even though Doctor Johnson declared it to be obsolete in 1755. It’s always irritated me that it’s spelt differently to way I say it, particularly when wife and calf both go to a v in the plural.
I am so glad I’m not a lexicographer or a scholar of the English language. So many details, so much tedium.
I thought I’d write a post to make sure it’s done (Final of the Great British Bake Off tonight so I won’t be writing much). Laura is my favourite contestant, though not the greatest baker. She’s very clumsy and often drops cakes in the final stages. Then, the next week, when you thing she’d slow down and use both hands she’s back at it, talking, rushing, moving cake one-handed and spilling it again.
It is finished. I’m now going to make a sandwich and move some stuff round so Julia thinks I’ve been tidying up.
I took Julia to work this morning, shopped at Lidl despite what I said about them last week (it’s the lure of the bakery counter!) and came home. I did a bit of writing, replied to comments and read a few blog posts. I spoke to my sister, washed up and generally had what Julia will consider a lazy morning. It’s still better than it was, so I’m quietly pleased with myself.
I have downloaded Apache Open Office and am looking at it as a way of replacing Microsoft Office. It doesn’t have all the features of Office 365, but it doesn’t have the complexity or the cost. Refreshingly it doesn’t claim to be new and improved either. And so far it hasn’t lost any of my work. Office 365 has lost two pieces that I was working on yesterday. It’s the idiot/computer interface that’s the problem, rather than the inanimate software, but I can’t help thinking that I never had this problem with previous versions and that this isn’t Microsoft’s finest hour. I want to have my files on my computer, not squirrelled away in a cloud that I need an internet connection to access.
Yes, I know there are plenty of upsides to the system, but there are some big downsides too.
Open Office isn’t the most sophisticated of programmes, which suits me fine, but it’s nice to feel like you are in control, rather than in thrall to Microsoft.
Time for lunch now, and it’s a turkey sandwich for me. While we were clearing the freezer to make room for Christmas shopping we found a turkey crown. This does not reflect well on our standards of housekeeping, or our memories. How do you forget something like that?
We decided it was better to eat it rather than save it as we didn’t want to spoil Christmas with ropey meat that had been in the freezer too long.
We had a roast dinner last night, with potatoes, parsnips, carrots, brussels, stuffing and gravy. It was very good, and even better because it was made for me. After tea I made sandwiches from the turkey on nice brown seeded bread with mayonnaise, cucumber, redcurrant jelly and stuffing. I’m going now, my sandwich is calling…
Header picture is a still life of a bored man waiting for his wife.
I’m torn between wonder that I have got to Number 39, and a sense of lost that Covid has presented me getting to Number 70, which is where it ought to be. I could try harder, and I didn’t even photograph the scones – just the gift box. It’s even taken me a month to get round to writing it up.
The Scones in question arrived in a small cardboard box from Bettys in Harrogate. My sister had ordered them on line as a treat for us. no particular reason, just because she’s a nice person. I will refer to it as a hamper, despite it being disguised as a cardboard box.
Bettys Hamper – tea, scones, cake and jam
The blue box contains tea, the brown protects the jar of strawberry jam and the other two explain themselves.
The scones had been in transit for a day and it took us another day to get clotted cream(if you’re going to have afternoon tea you may as well have all the calories and fat that go with it. Despite this, and my sister’s worries, they were still fresh.
They were also very good.
Unfortunately, Bettys advertise themselves in a way that suggests they are the best in the world, and they aren’t. Generally I’d be happy with scones that were this good, but Bettys make a rod for their own back – they really need to up their game if they want to match the adverts.. See here for more comments on this, and for a comment on the dropping of the apostrophe in the name – this criticism still stands. If you can’t be bothered to put an apostrophe in your logo what else can’t you be bothered to do?
The jam was excellent, as good as any strawberry jam I’ve ever had. It’s quite runny and has an intense flavour that grabs you under the ears (“meks yer tabs laugh” as they say in Nottingham). Top marks for that.
Same goes for the Yorkshire Tea Loaf – very good. We actually bought more scones and managed to make the contents of the box into three afternoon teas, which was even better than just having it for one. It was jam and cream scones the first day. jam and cream scone with Tea Loaf for the second day and jam scones with tea loaf the second day. It lasted well.
The tea, I’m afraid to say, was a bit overpowering for my taste, though that may be a fault of my water rather than the tea.
It was, as I recall £16 when I looked it up, which is good value, including next day delivery. At the moment they have a Christmas themed selection which doesn’t strike me as such great value.
If you are looking for a hamper you could try Mrs Botham. Botham’s of Whitby offer great food, excellent pork pies, and a reasonably-priced selection, plus they treat apostrophes with proper respect.
Am I the only one objecting to having to write an autobiography before being allowed to use a computer I just paid for? because I once used my email address for a Google account I can’t use it again, so have had to start a new email account. Why do they always need my date of birth too? If it’s because of “adult content” issues I would be quite capable of lying about my age and if it isn’t they don’t need it. As far as a computer company is concerned that is as relevant as my shoe size. That is 11 or 12, depending on width and fit, as my left foot is half a size bigger than the right and I sometimes have to buy twelves to accommodate that. It’s not a secret, it’s just not something that Microsoft needs to know. Meanwhile, in asking me for details, they applied the password not just to the Microsoft account but to the computer. I don’t need a computer password. If Americans want to know why the rest of the world sometimes has reservations about them, just ask Bill Gates why this should be. First of all he rents us software we used to be able to buy, then he makes us open accounts just to use our own computers. Next thing you know he’ll be cutting off our access if he doesn’t like what we say.
If the Chinese Government ever brings out a word processing package I will seriously consider using it on the basis it can’t be any more intrusive than Microsoft already is.
At last the changeover went comparatively easily, apart from writing the autobiography and then providing some of the information in duplicate. or triplicate. WE can invent computers (which is a bit like alchemy or witchcraft to a simple soul like me, and we can travel to the Moon ( or a TV studio in the desert) but we can’t, it seems, design a system that allows you type a phone number in one place on a form and allow it to show up every time they want your phone number.
AS for picking it up, it was interesting. They sent me an email in the morning telling me it was ready to pick up, but I had just started watching Sharpe, so I left it a while. You have to tell them you are outside the shop by pressing a link they send you. This, of course assumes you have your phone set up for email. I did when I was managing junior rugby teams but I don’t need it now so I never set it up on the phone. ASDA do the same with their Click & Collect. They assume the whole world are slaves to their phones. It isn’t true. Some of us still retain the power of thought and don’t ned all that electronic pap. It’s a plot I tell you, encouraging stupidity, mediocrity and self-centred behaviour. Our current House of Commons is quite clearly the result of early experiments in this direction.
I long for the old days when it was all about back-stabbing, naked ambition and class war. They were still a waste of space, but at least they were comparatively honest and straightforward.
That meant I had to forward the email to Julia who came with me to the shop and pressed the link once we found our way through the badly marked slalom course that was supposedly the system of collection bays. How difficult can it be to draw an arrow that looks like an arrow rather than a hockey stick. There are some well-established conventions on this, Pointy bit and shaft. It most definitely isn’t either rocket science or a hockey stick.
I interpreted it to mean that I had to turn back on myself and as a result, lost two places in the queue. I hate it when that happens. Anyway, it’s all running now, just leaving me to chunter that I can’t see why Windows 10 is necessary as it’s no advance on the old system.
Oh, hang on, I’m wrong. It is an advance on the old system because it enables Microsoft to make you buy new stuff.
One small backward step for mankind, one giant leap for Microsoft profits.
My new computer looks nothing like the one in the picture, but it’s the only computer photo I can find. Mine is more of a chunky black box attached to things (including a twelve -year-old screen, with a mass of tangled wires.